How to do Kegel Exercises – The 3 Essential Steps

kegek exercises

How to do Kegel exercises with these professional techniques for how to how to find your pelvic floor and how to feel your pelvic floor muscles and exercise them correctly.

Step 1 – How to Find and Feel Your Pelvic Floor

To do kegel exercises correctly, you need to know where your pelvic floor muscles are.

Your pelvic floor muscles sit in layers in and around the area where you sit. They are like a hammock that slings from your pubic bone at the front to your tail bone at the back as you can see in this side-on illustration. pelvic floor musclesYour pelvic floor muscles wrap around your urethra (urine tube), vagina and anus.

These muscles need to work for long periods of time, and also contract strongly and quickly when needed such as during a cough or sneeze. This is how you need to exercise them to work – for long periods of time and to contract quickly when required.

Pelvic floor muscles also need to rest and relax from exercise to avoid too much pelvic floor muscle tension.

How to feel pelvic floor muscles

Kegel exercises involve and feel like a squeeze of your pelvic openings and an inwards lift. Your pelvic openings are your vagina, anus and urethra (urine tube).

To know how to do Kegel exercises for strengthening, first you must be able to find and feel your pelvic floor muscles working. 

Useful techniques for feeling how to do your kegel exercises:

  • Imagine stopping wind from passing by lifting up inside your anus.
  • Sit saddle-like on a rolled towel as you squeeze your pelvic floor openings and lift inside.
  • Use your finger against your perineum (the space between your vagina and anus) as you lie on your side and feel this area lift inwards slightly as you contract your pelvic floor muscles.
  • Use a mirror to look at the entrance to your vagina and watch it close slightly and move inwards as you contract your pelvic floor muscles.
  • Avoid common mistakes such as straining or pushing your pelvic floor down and pulling your abdominal muscles in strongly as you attempt your pelvic exercises.

Step 2 – Training Kegel Exercises

When you are confident in how to do kegel exercises using the correct Kegel technique, you are ready to start your daily Kegel exercise training program:

  • Set your body in the correct position with appropriate posture for pelvic floor muscle exercise either; lying down, sitting or standing with a slight inward curve in your low back and your chest lifted.
  • Squeeze your pelvic openings and lift them up inside as you contract your pelvic floor muscles.
  • Maintain your strong pelvic floor muscle contraction as you breathe normally.
  • Fully relax your and rest your pelvic floor muscles sufficiently before repeating this technique again.

Step 3 – How to do Kegel Exercises and Strengthen

It is important to progress pelvic floor training to get the best results. Best Kegel exercises are those performed strongly, using the correct technique in upright positions. Lying down is a useful way to commence training for weak pelvic floor muscles; however, you need to train them to work in upright positions. Try to exercise your pelvic floor muscles using progressively longer and stronger contractions when you are able to.

Pelvic floor muscles should also be trained to work immediately before and during activities that may cause pelvic floor muscles to stretch and strain, such as coughing and sneezing.

It is not advisable to practice your Kegel exercises when walking. This can cause too much pelvic floor muscle tension where these muscles become unable to relax, contributing to pelvic pain.

How Long Will Strengthening Take?

Commitment to regular Kegel exercises will help you stay active and in control of your bladder and bowel. They will improve your pelvic support which is especially important with prolapse, after gynaecological surgery and childbearing.

Muscle changes start to occur in the first couple of weeks after commencing pelvic floor exercises. If your pelvic floor muscles are weak, it can take around 5 to 6 months of diligent pelvic floor training to get your best possible pelvic floor strength and control. Once you have done this, you will maintain your pelvic floor strength gains by performing your exercises on a couple of days of the week.

How Kegel Exercises Help

Regular pelvic floor muscle training can transform your pelvic floor into a stronger, thicker and firmer support. This means that your pelvic floor may be sit higher in your pelvis and provide better support for your inside and help you;

  • reduce pelvic prolapse symptoms
  • reduce or prevent leakage from bladder and/or bowel
  • prevent pelvic floor dysfunction that occur with menopause when pelvic floor muscles become thin and weak
  • rehabilitate the pelvic floor after pelvic floor surgery
  • improve pelvic support during pregnancy
  • rehabilitate the pelvic floor after pregnancy and childbirth
  • improve sexual sensation and satisfaction
  • help you to feel good about yourself.

Inside Out Book and DVD Saver PackABOUT THE AUTHOR, Michelle Kenway

Michelle Kenway is a Pelvic Floor Physiotherapist and author of Inside Out – the Essential Women’s Guide to Pelvic Support. The Inside Out exercise DVD and book show women how to strengthen the pelvic floor and exercise effectively with pelvic floor safe exercises.

Comments

  1. Dear Michelle, I have just started with your videos which have been helping me. I have a question about the right kind of ball since there are so many out there. I bought a reebok that was called a rebounder ball is that what I should be using I noticed in one video you had mentioned a fit ball. As since the last couple of times of using my ball it seems to be losing air. I did have a pump and was wondering if I am not using the right type of ball. Also my nephews wife had one that I tried out it seem to work well even though she had been using it for other type of exercises. Again thank you for you help also wondering since watching your previous videos you mentioned trying strength training on alternate days, what type of exercises should I be doing on the off days. Also in a previous comment you mentioned to me about the peserre insert was wondering the support for back as mentioned on your site would help as I have a stage one bladder prolapse and need some kind of support rather if it is a kind of panty or the support as for lower back as mentioned on your site until I can get the peserie inserted as I work standing in retail is there any recommendations that I could stand as I am working I don’t know If you remember my last post but you have been a true God send thank you I truly wish I lived not in the states but where I could go to train with you Thank You again for being there for all of us claudia

    • Pelvic Exercises says:

      Hi Claudia Yes I do remember you, great to hear from you again! As far as your questions go…1. Your fitball needs to be firm so that when you sit on it your hips sit slightly hugher than your knees. This will allow you to maintain the normal curve in your low back which actually helps your core muscles work. Training on a fitball is a great way to perform your exercises as it promotes core muscle activity and supports your pelvic floor too. There are a great many strength training exercises you can choose from that will still protect your pelvic floor. You can see some of these on the five free videos we have for exercises for prolapse to Inside Out for a complete whole body workout (the photos will help you along with this). 3. I think good support panties can do wonders for someone like yourself who is standing all day, make sure that they have a thin band in the waist and good abdominal support. I will have some online for you to see in the coming weeks. Take care and hoping this information helps you along Claudia, best wishes Michelle

  2. Hi Michelle,
    I suffered a bladder prolapse after my second baby 5 years ago. I did my pelvic floor ex’s regularly and things improved. I have since had another baby (who is now 3). My problem is that I love high impact exercise. I have returned to netball and running. Unfortunately (as I feared) my symptoms have worsened. I absolutely love my netball and find my running is just as good for my head as my body. I would be devastated to give it up. Would a pessary be an option? Or am I mad to keep going?? I also wanted to ask if after proplase surgery are you ever able to return to such exercise or not?
    Thankyou for such an informative site.Michelle B

    • Pelvic Exercises says:

      Hi Michelle
      This is probably one of the most frequently asked questions I receive so thank you for submitting it for others to read. It is not possible for me to answer you specifically in relation to your condition. What I can say is that I completely understand your love of high impact exercise for mind and body, I too share this love. What we know is that high impact exercise, that is exercise that involves two feet off the ground at once will increase the impact on your pelvic floor when compared with low impact exercise which involves one foot off the ground at a time. So general advice to women with pelvic floor dysfunction is to avoid high impact exercise and opt for low impact alternatives especially cycling/ spinning for more intense aerobic workouts. Having said for women who are avid runners and who are going to run anyway, then it makes sense to lessen the impact with good footwear, running on grass, alternating running with other low impact exercises, avoiding long runs and downhill running. Yes, many women find using a pessary ring is an excellent aid for supporting their prolapse, reducing symptoms and in my experience helping with their kegel exercises. Once a woman has had prolapse surgery there is definitely no guarantee that she can return to high impact exercise after surgery. In fact the risk of recurrent prolapse is increased following pelvic surgery with inappropriate exercise such as running. Most of all I think women need to know they can exercise for fitness and strength with a prolapse, it’s just a matter of choosing the right exercises that are pelvic floor friendly. Michelle I do hope this helps to answer your question, or at least make you a little more informed Michelle Kenway

      • Michelle — you say the pessary would help with the kegels. My naturopath just told me that if I eventually need a pessary I will no longer be able to strengthen my pelvic floor; that my pelvic floor will just be an inert blob. Please help!

        • Hi Nikole
          A pessary is an excellent device desgned to support prolapsed vaginal tissue. Sometimes the weight of a prolapse can make it very difficult for a woman to lift and effectively exercise her pelvic floor muscles. Many women report that having a pessary makes it far easier for them to do theri kegel exercises, without the prolapse dragging down. A pessary will if anything assist pelvic floor muscle strengthening. It will be important to continue to do pelvic floor exercises or kegel exercises with the pessary in and not to forget about them because the prolapse feels better.
          Michelle

          • Thanks Michelle. Frankly the naturopath’s answer made me cry once I got home. Of course I do realise that I can deal with it. Prolapse is not the worse thing that happens to you. But why would he say this? He is, in other ways, a good naturopath and I have always trusted him. The thought that if I ‘failed’ with my kegels I would be carrying around an inert flabby blob inside me was just horrible.

          • Hi Nikole
            This information about the prolapse and pessary doesn’t mean that your naturopath is not a good naturopath. I think it comes down to really understanding the field you are working in. I don’t think you can ‘fail’ at kegels, they are not a test although I think many women feel as though they are some kind of test strongly linked to their female status if that makes sense. Really you can only improve your pelvic floor muscle strength if your pelvic floor muscles are weak and not functioning well. Take care and do try not to worry about a pessary being a problem, it offers one of a number of possible solutions to such a common problem. Best wishes Michelle.

      • Can I do belly dancing, hoola hoop with pelvic prolapse.

        Can you use 2or 3 lb hand weights for arms with pelvic prolapse.
        Can you use strengthening bands for upper body workout?

        Thanks,

        • Michelle Kenway says:

          Hi Renee
          There shoudl be no problem for most women doing belly dancing or hoola hoop with pelvic prolapse.
          As far as hand weights go, the limit is really determined by the exercise being performed. prolapse severity and the strength of the pelvic floor – the stronger and better functioning the pelvic floor, the greater the capacity to withstand load. 2-3lb weights are usually reasonable to use for light upper body exercise and the load on the pelvic floor can be reduced by lifting one arm at a time, remaining seated throughout the exercise and breathing out with the effort of the lift. I usually guide women to avoid straining, and to use the load that feels comfortable to move.
          Cheers
          Michelle

      • Janet Tweedy says:

        I see you say “So general advice to women with pelvic floor dysfunction is to avoid high impact exercise and opt for low impact alternatives especially cycling/ spinning for more intense aerobic workouts.” but I developed my prolapse after trying three spinning classes, unfortunately they involved ‘bunny hops’ i.e. standing up and sitting down whilst pedalling. So as with normal gym classes could you advise which type of spinning is recommended for those with PF weakeness please?
        I find Step etc fine and never had any problem though now since developing the prolapse I avoid the high impact stepping. Find the whole website so reassuring having googled myself into a state of anxiety since being diagnosed.
        Where can i get the support underwear?

        • Michelle Kenway says:

          Hi Janet

          Thanks for your comments, yes I understand – it is easy to become quite anxious about a prolapse, and this need not be the case with some good management and understanding. I will contact you personally about the support briefs as I do not have them online.

          Yes agreed the wrong kind of spinning can cause pelvic floor problems and yes I have also received patient reports about prolapse following intense spinning sessions. Spinning is actually a wonderful way for many women with prolapse to get a great cardiovascular workout and protect their pelvic floor if they know how to spin safely. I have outlined how to spin to help women with prolapse in this article on spinning and cycling. Feel most welcome to comment further having read this article if you have further questions.

          Michelle

  3. Thanks again, Michelle. I do know that this naturopath is one of the best. I can trust his knowledge most of the time. But I also know nobody is infallible. It is puzzling to me that he could use these words to me that were so shattering and so definite. It would be out of character for him to be cruel and so I must believe that he really does think so. AND I am willing to assume that he may even have some experience in the field. But I hope to educate him in this myself as I go along!!!

  4. Hi Michelle
    I will make a study on the (effect of kegel exercises on the strength of pelvic floor muscles among women with stress urinary incontinence)
    my question please, is Kegel exercise take one form of technique (contract and relaxe the pelvic floor mucles) or can I concider some of abdominal exercises that have effect on pevic floor muscles as Kegel exercises.

    thank you for your cooperation

    • Hi Hussein
      RE: Pelvic Floor Muscles and Deep Abdominal Core Muscles

      This is an interesting question and there have been a couple of schools of thought. Yes we now know that the deep abdominal muscles work with the pelvic floor muscles and that by activating the deep transverse abdominis muscles studies have shown that the pelvic floor muscles contract at the same time in some women. The concern is that this is not necessarily the case for all women and that some women may practice their abdominal contractions without the pelvic floor muscles becoming active at the same time causing them to be placed under pressure. Pelvic floor strength exercises should involve specific pelvic floor muscle contraction and relaxation to be most effective. Thank you for your question, I hope this helps a little Michelle

  5. Hi Michelle

    Thank You for your replying and your interesting about my question.
    please;I have other questions.

    can you introduce some information about these couple of schools of thought?.
    and please can you send to me some pictures about abdominal muscles exercises that are not disagree with the pelvic floor muscles (Kegel exercises).

    and the last question please; is kegel exercise mean just contract and relaxe the pelvic floor muscle and how can I make Kegel exerciss program.?

    Thank you very musch Michelle

  6. Hi Michelle,
    I was diagnosed with a prolapse on the back wall of my vagina last year. I found this terrifying as I was only 38. I am diligent with my exercises and have been reassured that if I exercise regularly and strengthen the muscles there is every reason to believe that the prolapse won’t worsen with age. I’m still very scared that it will all fall out one day and I find that it really effects my confidence. Is it actually possible for me to have that confidence in my body knowing that I do exercise 3 times daily and do clinical pilates weekly?

    • Prolapse and Pilates Exercise
      Hi Christine
      Thank you for your valuable contribution.

      I think your question is very representative of what many women experience and fear in relation to exercise and having been diagnosed with a prolapse. I write this to reassure you first of all that you are indeed not alone with regards to your concern about future prolapse especially with exercise. Unfortunately the issue of prolapse and fear of repeat prolapse is not openly discussed often leading to fear and decreased self confidence, regardless of age. Furthermore your comment highlights the fact that young women do experience vaginal prolapse and it is definitely not a problem confined to the more mature woman.

      Performing pelvic floor exercises (kegel exercises) effectively and regularly will contribute towards the ability to improve prolapse support and prevent recurrent prolapse. The other factors within your control, relate to how much pressure you place on your pelvic floor in the course of your everyday living; the physical demands of your work and regular activities, your body weight, whether or not your smoke (causing you to cough), how effectively you use your pelvic floor muscles to protect against increased pressure such as cough and sneeze, whether you have had prolapse surgery, whether or not you strain to use your bowels, the types of exercise you regularly perform and more. So you can see that there are many factors to consider in relation to whether a prolapse can recur and this makes it very difficult for anyone to be reassured one hundred percent. Added to this there are physical changes beyond our control with the change of pelvic tissues as a women passes through menopause and beyond.

      In relation to your question about exercise this is a potential risk factor that is very much within your capacity to control. Most women with prolapse or after prolapse surgery can exercise effectively for their strength and fitness without compromising their pelvic floor. This is very much a matter of you being educated about those types of exercises that are more likely to increase pressure on the pelvic floor and obviously to avoid them. There are indeed some intense core Pilates exercises discussed by following this link are those that may increase the pressure on the pelvic floor and an existing prolapse. On the other hand there are wonderful benefits for core strength and stability to be gained from appropriate Pilates exercises for women, including those with pelvic floor prolapse.

      It is very important for women to exercise throughout life and this is indeed possible and most beneficial for women regardless of their pelvic floor condition. Christine the key for you is to be able to identify those exercises that are inappropriate for you and to avoid them so that you can enjoy your exercise and do so with confidence.

      I hope this information helps you to stay active and exercise with more confidence.
      Best wishes Michelle

      • Thanks for replying to my question. I don’t smoke, have a healthy weight, do my pelvic floor exercises religiously, and do clinical pilates with a pelvic floor physiotherapist weekly. I’m also careful with my toileting habits. I haven’t had surgery and am hoping to avoid it by doing all the right things. For the most part I’ve been symptom free for quite a few months (I didn’t even wet my pants last time I had a cough, which sounds funny but was actually quite an achievement). Hopefully the odds are in my favour. Thank you for this website, I’ve only just discovered it but have found it invaluable.

  7. can ;you use rubber strenthening bands for upper or lower body workout?

    • REnee Brown says:

      can you use rubber strengthening bands for upper and lower body workout if you have uterine or pelvic prolapse?

      Thanks,

      Renee

      • Michelle Kenway says:

        Hi Renee

        Yes definitely – rubber strengthening bands are great for resistance and can be used for a range of pelvic floor friendly exercises. Renee you still need to be careful with exercise selection. I think I need to make some videos on this to help you best. What type of strengthening are you seeking to do with the bands? I find them great for back and upper body – can you let me know?

        Look forward to hearing back from you
        Cheers
        Michelle

  8. Dear Michelle,
    My mom suffers from bladder prolapse. I saw your videos, they were great. But our house is in a area which don’t access internet everyday. how can I download your Kegel exercise videos, so my mom can watch and exercise everyday?
    very truly yours
    Parivash Noori